To stay healthy, our body needs vitamins, minerals and trace elements in addition to the main nutrients. These substances initiate vital processes in small and very small quantities. A well-balanced mixed diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole-grain products usually ensures the need. Some vitamins can not be formed by the body at all, or only from certain precursors. In addition, the organism can often store the vitamins only to a small extent. A regular supply of vitamins with food to maintain the vital processes must therefore be guaranteed.
Of the vitamins mentioned, vitamins A, C and E are of particular importance. These vitamins have an antioxidant effect called radical scavengers. In the body aggressive oxygen radicals, so-called oxidants, can form. They arise in normal metabolism when the body consumes energy: during sports or mentally strenuous activities, lack of sleep or nervous stress and increased by external influences such as UV rays, smoking or excessive consumption of alcohol. The free radicals attack cell membranes and destroy them.
When is the need for vitamins increased?
- During the growth phase in children and adolescents
- In pregnancy and lactation
- Taking the "pill"
- In long-lasting stress situations
- During convalescence and in old age
- By smoking or alcohol
- For chronic diseases such as diabetes
Vitamin A - Retinol
Vitamin A is especially important for seeing in the dark, growing in children and building skin and mucous membranes. Lack of retinol leads to so-called night blindness. Other symptoms include dry skin or brittle hair. Retinol is only present in animal foods. Precursors of the vitamin, so-called provitamins (eg beta-carotene) are contained in plant foods. The body can make its own vitamin A from these precursors. Retinol should not be overdosed, as poisoning, known as hypervitaminosis, can occur in high doses. In contrast, the provitamins can not trigger hypervitaminosis.
Group of B vitamins
B vitamins include: vitamins B1, B6, B12, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid and niacin. These vitamins play a crucial role in cell renewal and regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Deficiencies can lead, inter alia, to disorders of the hematopoietic system, skin or mucous membrane changes and nerve disorders.
Vitamin C - ascorbic acid
The typical deficiency disease scurvy is extinct. Nevertheless, there are still deficiency symptoms today. Who eats little fresh fruit or vegetables, or suffers from infections, needs more vitamin C. Also at high professional tension. Smokers have an up to 40% increased need for vitamin C. Vitamin C has a variety of effects in the organism. The most important functions are strengthening of the immune system, radical scavengers, involvement in the structure of the connective tissue and increasing the absorption of iron from the diet.
Vitamin D - Calciferol
Vitamin D is crucial for bone metabolism. Without adequate supply of vitamin D, the build up of bones and teeth is not possible. Vitamin D can be formed by the body itself. Under the influence of sunlight, vitamin D is converted to the active form, vitamin D3 - colecalciferol. Necessary prerequisite for the supply of the body with this vitamin are therefore regular, but short stays in the sun.
Sometimes, however, the self-made vitamin D is insufficient and must therefore be administered additionally. Especially in the first year of life, the intake of vitamin D is important, since the in-house production and the vitamin D content of the milk for the increased demand during this time is not sufficient. Infants therefore receive vitamin D3 tablets to help bone formation.
Vitamin E - tocopherol
Vitamin E - like vitamins A, D and K - belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins and can lead to hypervitaminosis in high doses. Tocopherol is particularly important for the full functioning of muscles, connective tissue, cardiovascular system and the immune system. Vitamin E also protects the body against many harmful influences, as it is a radical scavenger like vitamins C and A and can catch these cell-damaging particles. Natural vitamin E occurs in green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereal germs, oatmeal, butter and milk. According to the recommendations, a healthy adult should take 12 mg of vitamin E daily.
Vitamin K is involved in the formation of blood coagulation factors and bone metabolism. Vitamin K is supplied with food, but also produced by the natural intestinal flora. Green vegetables and fish and dairy products contain vitamin K. Lack of vitamin K can lead to an increased tendency to bleed, impaired bone formation and diarrhea or loss of appetite.